Legislators Pass Bipartisan, Zero-Tax-Increase 2017 Budget

img_57387th Year In A Row Without Tax Levy Increase
Increased Public Safety With 6 Westchester County Police Positions Added
Infrastructure Initiatives to Increase With 4 Engineers Added to DPW
Title XX Subsidized Childcare Gets $1 Million Boost

On December 12th, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) passed the $1.8 Billion 2017 Operating Budget by a vote of 10-7.  The 2017 budget is the 7th consecutive county budget that carries no tax increase.

The budget was supported by all 10 members of the bipartisan coalition of 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats.

In addition to not raising taxes, the 2017 budget contains no reductions to the county work force, in fact the budget adds 6 positions to County Police and 4 engineering positions to the Department of Public Works. 

budget-speech-2016

Minority Leader Testa speaking before budget vote.

Other than a slight reduction in funding to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, other non-profit partners kept the same level of funding as the 2016 budget.  There was an addition of $210,000 for other Community Based Organizations. 

During Budget and Appropriations Committee meetings, The BOL learned that the Title XX subsidized childcare program would not be able to accept new applicants beginning sometime in August 2017 based on current funding levels.  To ensure that low income families are able to access safe and affordable childcare while they are at work, the BOL added $1 million to the Title XX program. 

Prior to the budget vote, the BOL voted unanimously in favor of a resolution requesting the County Executive to undertake an open bidding process for a private operator at the Westchester County Airport.

Following the budget, BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) Somers, noted how challenging the 2017 budget process was.  “I thank my Legislative colleagues and staff for their hard work and cooperation in producing this bipartisan, no-tax-increase budget.  The 2017 budget not only protects taxpayers by not raising taxes for a seventh consecutive year, it strengthens social programs that many Westchester County residents rely on as well as adding critical positions to our County police and engineering positions in the Department of Public Works to help address a major backlog of capital projects.”,  Kaplowitz said.  “We will continue to work together with the County Executive to find alternative forms of revenue and savings, in fact we will be issuing a Request for Proposals for a private partner to operate the Westchester County Airport which could unlock as much as $15 million in funds that have accrued from airport operations.”

BOL Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, said the 2017 budget was achieved through a combination of fiscal discipline, bipartisan cooperation and finding alternative sources of funding.  “I am proud of the work that my 9 bipartisan colleagues and I have done to produce a seventh consecutive no-tax-increase budget.  My Republican colleagues and I are committed to protecting taxpayers by eliminating waste in government, constantly searching for more efficient ways to deliver services and finding alternative streams of revenue.”, Testa said.  “In addition to passing the 2017 budget today we also passed a resolution asking County Executive Astorino to issue a Request for Proposals to find a private operator the County Airport.  The County Executive proposed a very promising deal with a private operator for the airport and I am hopeful that following the bidding process we will act quickly to select a partner to help us monetize that important county asset for general county operational costs.”

BOL Vice-Chairman, Legislator Jim Maisano (R) New Rochelle, said. “This is a compromise budget that holds the line on property taxes and protects essential services.  Our County government is facing serious issues as we head into 2017 and we need to keep working together through bipartisan cooperation to ensure that our county is run in a fiscally responsible manner.”

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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